Group’s date at top of Ruberslaw

Roger Hemming of Bedrule, founder of Borders Exploration Group with an information dial which will be placed at the top of Rubberslaw in the background.
Roger Hemming of Bedrule, founder of Borders Exploration Group with an information dial which will be placed at the top of Rubberslaw in the background.
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The unique Borders Exploration Group (BEG) is placing a 20th birthday toposcope at the top of Ruberslaw at the weekend.

The plaque shows the miles to other local hills and has pointers indicating the direction of countries BEG has visited. And Sunday afternoon will see volunteers, members and supporters hike up the hill near Denholm to unveil the toposcope.

One of BEG’s founders, Roger Hemming, said: “We live in a global society and it’s very important to understand the different countries that feature in the news.

“In two or five weeks you can’t get under the skin of a country, but you can get an idea, and, as BEG expeditions are multi-faceted, the young people tend to lodge with local families and learn a lot about local people, and see the ecology of the country and meet ordinary people.

“We try in a short time to learn as much about the country as possible and, particularly important, its culture.”

He led expeditions for several organisations to several different parts of the world before initiating BEG with a few friends in October 1991.

And he led the group’s first venture to Lesotho in 1993: “I wanted to demonstrate that young Borderers could go out and see and learn and experience different parts of the world. Lesotho proved it was possible to recruit young people in the Borders and do something like that.”

Volunteer-run, the not-for-profit organisation is the only one of its kind in Scotland. It aims to help 16 to 25-year-olds develop physically, mentally and spiritually by undertaking challenges at home and overseas, and also tries to raise awareness of environmental concerns and help young people understand other cultures.

It usually does international and European expeditions year about and runs business and youth challenge days, survival courses, activity weeks and weekends, Scottish adventures, lectures and training weekends at home.

The expeditions include work on community-based, adventure, science and environmental and social projects.

More than 400 young Borderers have undertaken BEG adventures and several are on the present committee.

Current chairman, retired Selkirk High School computing teacher Jim McPherson was persuaded by a colleague to help with the 1997 Kenyan expedition and he has been involved since.

“I’ve really enjoyed what the group does and I have a very strong belief in what the group is all about, taking youngsters abroad and letting them see life and culture in different countries.

“It really can be quite a culture shock and it certainly gives them an appreciation of how much they have here.”

Ruberslaw is the site for the toposcope because, as part of a selection process, the Lesotho trip leaders had to produce a meal on top of Ruberslaw, and Mr Hemming added: “It’s featured in a lot of local challenge events since.”

Patron Sir Michael Strang-Steel, who will unveil the toposcope on Sunday, said: “BEG gives young people a wonderful opportunity to travel abroad and to develop leadership qualities.”

For more information on the group, which always welcomes volunteers, visit borders-exploration-group.org.uk